Laurie and I love to explore when we’re on road trips and even when we’re home in East Tennessee. So when we were in the Apalachicola area in Florida’s panhandle, it was just a matter of course before we left the town itself to see what we could see…
As you come off the bridge from the mainland, this lighthouse and keeper’s home and cottage are just about the first things that you see. The lighthouse dominates the skyline. The lighthouse keeper’s home serves as a museum and visitor’s center for the island.
St. George Island is a barrier island that protects and helps form St. George Sound as well as the eastern end of Apalachicola Bay. The island is 28 miles long and 1 mile wide at its widest point. St. George Island is part of a string of barrier islands that include Cape St. George Island and Dog Island. St. George Island is connected to the mainland via FL Hwy. 300 and a bridge over Apalachicola Bay.
The St. George’s Island lighthouse looks old but it’s really a quality reconstruction of the original. It was completed in 2008 and the keeper’s cottage was finished and opened to the public in 2011. Tickets can be purchased at the cottage to climb the lighthouse stairs.
To learn more about the cottage and lighthouse, you can go to http://www.stgeorgelight.org/.
The original lighthouse actually stood on “Little” or Cape St. George Island. As shown in this sad photo, it collapsed in the fall of 2005 after a series of hurricanes and related attempts to save it. (Photo by Debbie Hooper, JoeBay.com)
The first lighthouse on the island was built in 1833. It was damaged and replaced in 1848. The second lighthouse lasted only 3 years and was replaced in 1852. This one was built to last! The lighthouse keeper was replaced by an automatic light in 1949. The Coast Guard deactivated the light after severe storm damage in 1994. Given its exposure to hurricanes and other storms, the fact that the original lasted 153 years is remarkable.
The beach on St. George Island goes on and on and on… With 28 miles of seashore on the Gulf of Mexico there is enough sand for everyone!
St. George Island is informally divided into three regions:
· The Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park. The park occupies the eastern 9 miles of the island. We didn’t visit it because I just wanted to drive through and take a couple of photos but there is an admission fee…not worth it for just 30 minutes of sightseeing. For information about this park, go to https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/St-George-Island.
· A fairly long strip of restaurants, bars, small businesses, homes and a public beach. We drove the length of this area in both directions and as you’ll see in an upcoming post, we had lunch here. We did notice that there are a plethora of nice rental cottages in this area.
· At the western end of the island there is the St. George Plantation, a private, gated, highly exclusive housing community with its own airstrip that includes some of the most expensive multimillion-dollar beach homes along the Gulf of Mexico. Homes can be rented in this community too. Check it out at http://www.stgeorgeplantation.com/.
This is a photo of the FL Hwy. 300 Bridge that I took from St. George’s Island as we headed back to the mainland. The St. George’s Island Bridge was completed in 2004, replacing an older bridge that had been deemed as unsafe.
At 4.1 miles long, the St. George's Island bridge is the third longest bridge in Florida.
· Tampa’s Sunshine Skyway Bridge across Tampa Bay is exactly 25 feet longer than the St. George’s Island Bridge. Florida’s longest bridge is the Seven Mile Bridge that connects Knight’s Key with Little Duck Key in the Florida Keys at the tip of the state.
Sections of the old bridge to St. George’s Island remain. One reaches out from the mainland and the section shown above reaches into the bay from the island. As a guy that likes to fish, I was happy to note that both old bridge segments are designated as fishing piers…
On the way back to the mainland from St. George’s Island Laurie was able to capture this picture of Apalachicola Bay oystermen plying their trade.
Apalachicola Bay, which is relatively shallow and about 30 long, produces 90 percent of Florida’s oysters. I was both pleased and surprised to learn that Apalachicola Bay is the last place in the United States where, by law, wild oysters are still harvested by tongs from small boats. The commercial fisheries “bag” limit for the current season is 3 bags or 6 5 gallon buckets of oysters in the shell…3 inch minimum. It is a challenging way to make a living!
That’s about it for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.
Thanks for stopping by for a little sightseeing!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave